This is the wording of the ground:
The dwelling-house was occupied (whether alone or with others) by a married couple, a couple who are civil partners of each other, a couple living together as husband and wife or a couple living together as if they were civil partners and—
(a) one or both of the partners is a tenant of the dwelling-house,
(b) the landlord who is seeking possession is a registered social landlord or a charitable housing trust,
(c) one partner has left the dwelling-house because of violence or threats of violence by the other towards—
(i) that partner, or
(ii) a member of the family of that partner who was residing with that partner immediately before the partner left, and
(d) the court is satisfied that the partner who has left is unlikely to return.
For the purposes of this ground “registered social landlord” and “member of the family” have the same meaning as in Part I of the Housing Act 1996 and “charitable housing trust” means a housing trust, within the meaning of the Housing Associations Act 1985, which is a charity within the meaning of the Charities Act 1993.
Now lets pick it apart.
The most important thing for PRS landlords to bear in mind is that you can’t use this ground, it’s for social landlords only and to be honest you wouldn’t want to get involved in this anyway, it’s the ground used for relationship breakdown where one partner has been violent to the other.
The aim of the ground being that someone should not be allowed to benefit from driving their partner from their home.
The violence in question doesn’t have to be actual it can be threatened and the victim of it doesn’t have to be the partner, it can be a family member of that partner, as long as that family member was living there as well.
To satisfy this ground the court must also be ensured that the person who has left is unlikely to return.
It is interesting to note that the definition of domestic violence has been recently redefined as “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling or coercive behaviour” and expanded in recent years beyond physical violence to include Psychological, emotional, sexual and even financial issues, for instance where the husband has control of his wife’s bank account and won’t let her have access to it.
And yes…………..this is quite common.
Defending this ground.
Reference is often made to the case of Camden LB v. Mallett (2001) where the wife suffered long term abuse but left the family home with her new boyfriend. The remaining Mallett argued that this was the reason for her leaving not the abuse.
The courts accepted that there could be more than one reason for a person giving up their accommodation but before granting possession they must be satisfied that the dominant cause for leaving is the abusive behaviour.
Advocates need to bear this important and very tricky distinction in mind.
And this kerfuffle is why PRS landlords should count themselves lucky they aren’t expected to seek possession on this ground.